GREAT JOKER! Did she just WAKE UP to realize that Andy's not IN THE MOOD FOR passive-aggressive behavior, no matter how much he talks
Wimbledon, the crown jewel of tennis, begins next week in London and I have I some choice words for Andy Roddick, who has been in a funk as of late:
Throughout the past 12 months, Roddick's game has seemingly hit the pause button and put a huge dent in the progress of American men's tennis. His sometimes listless play, dwindling desire and inability to beat Roger Federer is causing him to disappear off the radar.
Of course, Federer is the No. 1 player in the world and has seven grand slam titles to his name. He is the Goliath to Roddick's David, posting a 10-1 career record against the him, including victories over him in the last two Wimbledon finals.
However, if this year's French Open showed us nothing else, it illustrated the Swiss champ has exploitable weaknesses on the court. In Paris, Federer demonstrated he can be bullied and in a big match, brazen attitude and a little good fortune are enough to beat him.
Sure, critics may argue Federer's four-set loss at the hands of Rafael Nadal in the French Open final was not surprising because it happened on Federer's worst surface, red clay. They'll say Nadal was destined to win the match to add to his 59 consecutive clay-court win streak preceding the final. They'll remind you that despite his rare humanization at Roland Garros, Federer is a master on grass with 41 consecutive victories on the surface and he'll most certainly win his fourth consecutive Wimbledon championship this year.
But if Roddick and the rest of the tennis world was watching Federer closely at the French, they would have seen a glitch in the Swiss' tennis prowess. They would have seen a guy whose limitations were not only exposed by Nadal, but also by his opening round opponent, Argentine qualifier Diego Hartfield, and again by semifinal opponent David Nalbandian.
And so I say if Roddick is to have any chance to finally beat Federer and salvage what's left of American men's tennis he needs to Man up and strike now. He needs to take note of what those three guys did against Federer in Paris and use it to his advantage.
Attack the net: Federer struggled early in his match against Hartfield because the Argentine offered up big kick serves and wasn't afraid to come to the net. With Hartfield's adept net play, Federer struggled to maintain his consistency throughout the first two sets. The Swiss is used to controlling the points and bullying the net in his own right, especially on grass. To counter that at Wimbledon, Roddick needs to use his own powerful serve and forehand to dictate the points and try and get Federer out of position before closing off the points at the net. This would force Federer into low-percentage shots and shorten the points, thus saving the wear on Roddick's body as the match progresses.
Dismantle Federer's backhand: The backhand is Federer's weakest shot. Yes it may be pretty, even poetic at times, but aesthetics don't win points in tennis, and with a return as potent as Roddick's he should be all over Federer's feeble backhand. Against Nalbandian, the failed backhand caused Federer to drop serve twice in the first set. In the final against Nadal, Federer had 24 unforced backhand errors. After losing the first set, Nadal sensed Federer's weakness and used his speed and commanding forehand to decimate Federer's backhand shot almost every time he went for it.
Use some gamesmanship: Tennis is as much mental as it is physical. You have to get into your opponent's head. After dropping the second set 6-1 and going up 1-0 at the beginning of the third, Federer waited patiently for Nadal to begin his serve after the changeover. Federer waited. And waited. And waited. In fact, in what can be only seen as an effort to rattle Federer and throw him off his game, Nadal took almost a three minutes to come back to the baseline and begin his serve. Federer was visibly annoyed. Nadal won the game at love and Federer's game began to really unravel. This is what Roddick needs to do against Federer. Slow the game down, letting Federer know that Roddick is in control.
Nadal said it best when he mused after the Paris final, "What is important is that my attitude is always positive. If you play with a good mental attitude, even if you're not 100 percent you can still win because, in fact, you win more with your heart, your attitude and with your will power than with anything else."
Even with all of these adjustments to his game is a win over Federer at the All England club really a Mission Impossible? Perhaps. But the time is now for Roddick. If he wants to salvage his game and re-ignite American men's tennis he needs to strike with a win while Goliath is vulnerable.